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Tasty trend for 2013: Twist on Asian comfort food

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Updated: March 10, 2013 3:28AM



It isn’t unusual to experience a little deja vu with food trend predictions for the new year, but one of 2013’s biggest trends of the year — Asian comfort food — isn’t a trend at all. It has been mainstream for probably a decade or more.

Kimchi fried rice, Korean barbecue tacos, Vietnamese pho and anything with Sriracha sauce boast cult followings all over the United States. And let’s not forget green tea: the flavor that has infused everything from ice cream to vodka martinis.

But perhaps this year, the Asian twist on comfort food classics is moving outward from its metropolitan followings to include a more widespread, small-town popularity. If this food prediction is right, we can see a lot more of the West Coast standards infiltrating our midwestern fare.

We can start by replicating L.A.’s street food phenom, the Korean barbecue taco. With inspiration stemming from the Baja-style of taco prep, these food truck specialties incorporate pork or beef Korean barbecue with a smattering of cabbage slaw.

Kogi, the food truck that started it all, made a name for itself by tweeting the trucks’ locations. Now, its tasty, spicy pork and short rib tacos have dug their own notch into American gastronomic lore — and for good reason. The Korean-Baja fusion of this comfort food staple has a unique spicy, yet cooling flavor that creates a reoccurring craving after just one sampling.

Kalbi is the traditional name for barbecued Korean short ribs, which generally include a sweet and savory marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar and pear before the ribs are barbecued over an open flame.

But another way to prepare these tacos (even though it happens to take the “BBQ” out of “Korean barbecue”) is by using the slow cooker. The slow-cook method not only lets that same marinade infuse the meat, allowing the meat to fall right off the bone, but it also makes this meal a little more practical for winter cooking.

There’s no need to fire up the grill with this method, and at the same time, there’s the option for setting up a DIY taco bar. Meat’s in the Crock Pot — help yourself.

From prep to tortilla, this taco dinner will take anywhere from 6-8 hours, but you can account for only about 45 minutes of that to prepare your marinade and slaw.

The rest of the time stews away in the slow cooker. Simple, tasty, and now very mainstream, these Korean short rib tacos are here for the year, and hopefully much longer.

Korean Rib Tacos with Cabbage-Cilantro Slaw

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

3/4 cups soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 pounds beef short ribs

Juice of 1 lime

Corn tortillas for serving

In a bowl, blend all ingredients except the short ribs and corn tortillas. Place short ribs in slow cooker and pour sauce over ribs, cover and turn on low heat. Let sit for 6-8 hours.

Remove meat from pot, discard bones. Skim fat off the top of the sauce and remove about half of the sauce from the pot. Once meat is cool, pull apart with your fingers and return to pot. Use slotted spoon to serve meat on corn tortillas and serve with slaw.

Cabbage-Cilantro Slaw

1 head cabbage, shredded

2 large carrots, shredded

1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 cup of rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Whisk together hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Pour over cabbage, carrots and cilantro. Toss to combine.



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